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‘Provocative Questions’ And More At New Science Museum Exhibit

It sounds like a chamber straight out of Hogwarts: The Area of Provocative Questions

But no, it’s part of an ambitious, forward-thinking new exhibit that focuses on personalized health, human biology, public policy and more at Boston’s Museum of Science: The Hall of Human Life, a renovated 15,000-square-foor space that visitors will enter through a huge, semi-transparent membrane.

Paul Fontaine, the museum’s vice president of education, said the Provocative Question area will challenge visitors to explore their own own beliefs and the outside forces that shape them. The questions might include:

-Should high schools delay their start time because of sleep needs of teen-age students?
-Should genetically modified foods be acknowledged in packaging and advertising?
-Should the state of Massachusetts control fluoridation in the public water supply?
-Should the drinking age be lowered to eighteen?
-Should the FDA regulate natural supplements and herbal remedies?
-Should cell phone use in cars be banned?

The exhibit, slated to open in July 2013, will also house a “living lab,” where working scientists in biology, neuroscience, cognitive development and other areas will conduct research with consenting museum-goers. “People will get a chance to talk to real scientists and researchers,” Fontaine said, and it will also give lab-bound scientists an opportunity to get out into the real world a bit.

Perhaps the coolest part of the exhibit, which just received a $5 million grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, is an interactive exploration of personalized health and how to manage it. Each visitor will get a bar-coded bracelet Continue reading